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Tag / pasta

A few weeks ago I was invited to have a little food tasting session at Holiday Inn‘s bar and restaurant by the name of The Mix.

Prior to this occasion, I’ve only been to Holiday Inn to pick up my brother in law, who stayed there a few times. The hotel’s official name is Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur, though it is actually situated at Glenmarie, Shah Alam, over a dozen kilometers away from the KL/Selangor border. Then again, KLIA isn’t in KL, so why not?

The Mix, at Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur, Glenmarie
The Mix, at Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur, Glenmarie

One of the good things about hotels in areas like this is that there’s always plenty of parking, and more often than not, they’re outdoor and free. A short walk to the far side of the hotel you’ll find The Mix, a pub with a well stocked bar and a full kitchen.

Our mission was to sample some of their dishes, though we did have a few drinks just for good measures.

The Mix is pork free, but like most hotel premises that also serve alcohol, it is not strictly halal.

Osso Buco style lamb shank, stuffed mushroom, waikiki salad
Osso Buco style lamb shank, stuffed mushroom, waikiki salad

We started out with a waikiki salad (RM 22) and stuffed mushroom (RM 25). The salad came with chunks of ahi tuna, tobikko roe and mizkan ponzu which makes for good refreshing start.

Stuffed mushroom has cream cheese, cannellini beans, walnut, and olive. A dish that’s probably best consumed while warm. I didn’t find it particularly great after waiting for too many pictures to be taken by too many people after. Oh well.

Osso Buco style lamb shank (RM 50) marks the first of many main dishes we tried. There’s shallot risotto, spinach, and rocket salad as well. The lamb shank was tender and tastes pretty good as well. If you’re a small eater, sharing is advisable.

lemon grass lamb, one of my favorites of the night
lemon grass lamb, one of my favorites of the night

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the lemon grass lamb (RM 45) that could probably use a more exotic name. The dish came with brown rice and pumpkin curry accompanying three pieces of lamb cutlet that were perfectly seared. Seasoning for the dish was perfect, and I just couldn’t get enough of the pumpkin curry, was so good!

At RM 45, this dish provides pretty good value as well.

balsamic glazed short ribs, ryu (black cod), beef negimaki
balsamic glazed short ribs, ryu (black cod), beef negimaki

Balsamic glazed short ribs (RM 50) came with butter-braised garlic, onions, zucchini and beans. It was pretty decent but I secretly wished that it was pork ribs instead.

Ryu (RM 55) is what’s in the menu entry for fried black cod with shitake and eryngii mushroom, as well as boiled potato and vegetable. Cod can never go wrong, and this version did not disappoint either, though serving size isn’t nearly as generous as the lamb dishes.

Beef negimaki (RM 25) is the chef’s interpretation of east meets west. The beef drenched in dashi soya sauce, then all rolled up with some asparagus. A side of curious looking tempura accompany the red meat. A pretty interesting attempt, but one that may need a bit of refinement, I find the beef a tad too tough, and the tempura not matching real well.

coconut chicken strip, Gerard Bertrand merlot, rendang pizza
coconut chicken strip, Gerard Bertrand merlot, 2 De Quase pizza

Coconut chicken strip (RM 15) though, makes for excellent beer food. The poultry coated with coconut before being deep fried and served with honey soya dipping. It was  quite a treat!

The Mix served quite a selection of pizza, and we tried “2 De Quase” (RM 30) – a combination of half masala chicken with spicy red sauce, mozzarella cheese topped with cilantro and garlic prawns with herbs. I’d say the combination works pretty well, we enjoyed the pizza.

masala pasta, Jivara indulgence, raspberry Rhubard almond crumble
masala pasta, Jivara indulgence, raspberry Rhubard almond crumble

For pasta lovers, there are also a few selections to choose from. Our masala pasta (RM 35) would please those who likes pasta with a kick, again, a dish best consumed warm.

For desserts, there’s raspberry rhubard almond crumble (RM 30) and Jivara indulgence (RM 30), a rich chocolate fudge sponge layered with salty crusty bites and topped with milk chocolate peanut cream mousse. I have to say that I didn’t try them due to limited stomach space, but those who reacted positively.

The Mix’s kitchen proved to be quite capable in serving up more than decent dishes for the most part, and at good value as well. The two cocktails we tried did not disappoint either. For those who’re around the area, this place is quite a decent watering hole.

direction to Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur, Glenmarie

Address:
The Mix
Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur
1 Jalan Usahawan U1/8,
Seksyen U1, 
40250 Shah Alam, Selangor
GPS: 3.094189, 101.577201
Tel: 03-7802 5200

A couple days prior to General Election 13, we were invited to a food review session at PLOY to sample some dishes from their new menu.

According to their website, PLOY means Gem in Thai. It is then this pretty unique contemporary fine dining restaurant’s aim – to have their dishes be true gems of Japanese and Thai cuisine.

PLOY at Clearwater, Damansara Height
PLOY at Clearwater, Damansara Height

PLOY is located at Clearwater Residence in Damansara Heights. Parking is a pretty painless affair, there’s an underground car park in the building, and it also seems like you can park on the streets just outside of it, though legality in that is questionable.

The restaurant itself is tastefully decorated and has two separate dining halls, a fully air conditioned area, and another half outdoor for alfresco dining.

there are some interesting drinks on the menu
there are some interesting drinks on the menu

There’s a full bar at PLOY. Beer, liquor, cocktails, coffee, and several other rather interesting drinks can be ordered. My drink for the night was Apple Sour, basically fresh apple juice with sour plum in it, very refreshing. Fraps, cappuccino, and Thai ice tea were reportedly pretty good as well.

tuna wakame salad, golden needle salad
tuna wakame salad, golden needle salad

Dinner started out with a couple different types of salad. Tuna Wakame Salad (RM 23) comes with chunks of tuna cubes, avocado, and sesame in shoyu dressing, while Golden Needle Salad (RM 15) with tofu, avocado, broccoli, and wafu dressing.

Due to the pretty distinct taste of avocado, the two salads ended up more similar than different, but not in a bad way. I love the way they deep fried the string mushrooms, and if you were to choose a salad, I’d recommend the golden needle, tastes as good, and cheaper too.

tempura surprise, kabocha tempura
tempura surprise, kabocha tempura

Tempura Surprise (RM 15) is a dish with questionable usage of one of my favorite fish – seabass. The fish is wrapped in oba leaf, and then deep fried. It was a surprise alright, but not exactly in a commendable way. The combination did not work well even though I’m a fan of both major ingredients. I think they should re investigate this dish.

On the other hand, Kabocha Tempura (RM 8.50), or salted egg pumpkin tempura, fared much better. The pumpkin were delicious, and would scored even higher marks if those salted egg yolk sticks to the gourd better. I like it.

crab in wrap
crab in wrap – a maki with a hint of tropical influence

Most of us have tried Spider rolls, or soft shell crab maki in Japanese restaurants, this is PLOY’s interpretation with their Crab in Wrap (RM 28). Other than soft shell crab, avocado, sushi rice, and spicy kani, mango can be found in this roll.

To me, this is a perfect blend of Thai & Japanese influence, and one that works very well. I love the taste of Thai in the maki, very well executed.

magic puff - with goat cheese, truffle oil, and wild rocket
magic puff – with goat cheese, truffle oil, and wild rocket

Magic Puff (RM 32) does not come cheap, but it’s got truffle oil and goat cheese in the homemade crispy pastry with wild rocket. This is a dish that had to be consumed ASAP before the cheese melts into the pastry, and oh it tastes very good! Truffle oil, made all the difference, yums!

the godfather special, pasta from heaven, smoked duck breast with chicken ham pizza
the godfather special, pasta from heaven, smoked duck breast with chicken ham pizza

The trio of main dishes we shared were the Godfather Special (RM 22), Pasta from Heaven (RM 28), and Smoked Duck Breast with Chicken Ham Pizza (RM 28).

Godfather Special is a fancy name for a salmon ikura don with avocado, royu and nori (seaweed) in tempura flakes. The flakes gave it a crispy texture in an otherwise pretty average dish. It felt.. healthy.

Pasta from Heaven is angel hair spaghetti with sakura ebi (small shrimps) and flying fish roe  in truffle oil. Again, the truffle oil proved to be the salvation in this one, and I love angle hair pasta, so it worked for me. Though I’d love to have chunks of something else in it, like prawns or .. just something.

The pizza was awesome, I really loved the pizza! For RM 28 this is the real deal, plenty of real yummy duck breast on the really thin crust pizza with avocado sauce. The sprinkle of flying fish roe gave it that extra pop. It was delicious, if you love duck breast, you’ll absolutely enjoy this pizza. I wanted to have more!

sticky date pudding, durian panna cotta, creme caramel
sticky date pudding, durian panna cotta, creme caramel

When we thought the dinner was over, our host brought out these three types of desserts.

The sticky date pudding was alright, the creme caramel will satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth, but the durian panna cotta is what I really want to talk about.

It might look uninspiring, but the durian panna cotta was awesome. It’s rich, it’s pungent, and it’s an absolute must for anyone who even remotely like durian. It’s the stuff that should make some people go to PLOY just for the dessert. Try it!

Ivy, Haze, KY, chef Daniel, Marc, Hitomi and others having a good time
Ivy, Haze, KY, chef Daniel, Marc, Hitomi and others having a good time

So if you’re up to something slightly out of the ordinary, PLOY is a definitely a place to check out. While I can’t say that everything is awesome, there are quite a lot of bright spots in their latest menu. I would also say that prices are pretty competitive for the setting PLOY offers.

Thank you Lennie for the invites.

map to PLOY at Clearwater

Address:
PLOY
G-2, WORK@Clearwater,
Jalan Changkat Semantan,
Bukit Damansara, KL
GPS: 3.152327, 101.666762
Tel 03-2095 0999
Webploywithyourfood.com

I’ve heard about Checkers for a while and always wanted to try their famous pork ribs, years after I was first recommended by a friend about this place, we finally went there for dinner over Pearl’s (belated) birthday.

Checkers at Damasara Heights, there isn't a sign board
Checkers at Damasara Heights, there isn’t a sign board

Located at a pretty quiet part of Damansara Heights with ample parking space, Checkers is very small family run restaurant that gives you the homey ambiance with the stern looking proprietor and his friendly wife. Most everyone that shared the other 5-6 tables in the dining hall seemed to know the owners on first name basis.

Equipped with plastic chairs and basic white table cloths on square dining tables, interior decoration at Checkers were probably done in 5 minutes. In fact, the restaurant doesn’t even have a sign board. But we’re here for food, right?

village bread, served with a side of sliced tomato & salami
village bread, served with a side of sliced tomato & salami

Menu is a simple one page A4 sheet with choices of pasta, appetizers, grilled meat, and a few types of desserts. There are also usually some off-menu dishes you could order, all you need to do is ask.

We started the night with an order of village bread (off menu) and it turned out to be surprisingly good. The bread was steaming hot and served with a side of sliced tomato and salami as well as olive oil and vinegar. Perfect to munch on while waiting for the main attraction. The bread might look deceptively small in portion, but it’s good enough to serve a table of four.

Lord of the Ribs, the main attraction
Lord of the Ribs, the main attraction

The aptly named Lord of the Ribs (RM 120) is what we came here for. A giant slab of pork ribs expertly seasoned and grilled with perfection. While the exterior looks a bit dry, it was prepared so to seal in the juices within. Home made bbq sauce (I think), and an olive oil based sauce comes with it. While some have complained about the ribs being a little dry, I thought it was lovely and not over powered by too much sauce (then all you taste is sauce instead of meat).

The dish also came with generous portion of salad and mash, if there’s only two of you, this slab of ribs should be the only thing you order.

some chicken pasta, grilled pork tenderloin and sausage
some chicken pasta, grilled pork tenderloin and sausage

We also shared a chicken pasta dish (off menu, can’t remember the exact name) which could have been lovely if we didn’t wait till it was cold to consume. I did like the way the poultry tasted though.

The grilled pork tenderloin and sausage (RM 39) is something I wouldn’t mind having if dining alone at Checkers. The thin sliced pork  were tender and lovely, and I particularly love the way they served the potato, in thin slices with onions mixed in. This dish is as porky as it ias tasty.

Pearl, David, KY, Haze at Pearl's birthday dinner
Pearl, David, KY, Haze at Pearl’s birthday dinner

If you’re to pay Checkers a visit, do call for bookings to avoid disappointment as they have less than 10 tables even if you count the two non-weatherproof tables on the balcony. Prices aren’t cheap, but quality of food is good, and that homey feeling and very personal service is something you don’t get in most restaurants these days.

Checkers at Damansara Height

Address:
Checkers
19 Lorong Setiabistari 2,
50490 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.143856, 101.65728
Tel03-2095 3304
Hours: 6-10 pm

Checkers

Chef Stefano Merlo hail from the kitchen of the acclaimed Rossini’s at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok, and brought with him a unique take on contemporary Italian cuisine at Favola from 15 – 21 April, 2012. There are over 20 menu items to choose from, and available only for dinner. Ala carte dishes are priced from RM 30++ to RM 250++, while a 4-course set menu is available at RM 300 nett per person or 4-course set menu with wine pairing at RM 450 nett.

We were among the lucky few to be invited to the cooking and tasting session with Chef Stefano last weekend.

Chef Stefano Merlo at Favola, Le Meridien KL
Chef Stefano Merlo at Favola, Le Meridien KL

Chef Stefano is a native of Padua in northern Italy and has worked alongside with many highly regarded chefs in prestigious restaurants around the world. This includes Michelin starred Chef Alfredo Russo from “Il Dolce Stil Novo”, and respected Head Chef Toshikazu Tsuji from Enoteca Pinchiorri in Tokyo.

artichokes fritata in preperation
artichokes fritata in preperation

The good chef prepared three dishes for us to sample during the cooking demonstration – Artichokes Fritata, Seafood Risotto, and Milk Risotto with Cherry Parfait.

First, the artichokes fritata, a very interesting preparation of perhaps the most mundane of all ingredients – egg.

  • 12 eggs
  • 100 gram cream
  • 4 stalks of artichokes
  • bread croutons
  • shiso cress

artichokes fritata
artichokes fritata

First, fry eggs with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper but keeping the yolks slightly runny. Transfer the fritata in a blender and blend it with cream till smooth. Peel and clean artichokes and steam in oven for 30 minutes at 90c. To serve, pour 3 spoon of fritata and top with artichoke, crutons, shiso cress and extra virgin olive oil.

The only tricky part is that you need a culinary foam maker to make this fritata, but the result was a breakfast with very unique texture and a familiar taste, it was very nice.

seafood risotto, plenty of bisque is the key
seafood risotto, plenty of bisque is the key

Next was seafood risotto.

  • 140 gram risotto
  • prawns, scallops, seabass, baby squid, mussels, clams
  • 200 gram clam and mussel stock
  • 50 gram butter
  • 50 gram parmesan cheese
  • 10 gram chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 gram lecithin
  • salt

lecithin is used to make foam, and seafood prepared separately
lecithin is used to make foam, and seafood prepared separately

Toast rice with butter and a pinch of salt, then cook with clam and mussel stock till rice is ‘al dente’ (slightly hard in the center). Remove from heat and add two tablespoon of butter, then mix rice with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Pan fry or grill the seafood (one by one as they have different cooking time). Make foam by using the remaining clam and mussel stock mix with lecithin (this can be omitted at home). Pour risotto in serving plate, mix seafood and foam to serve.

seafood risotto, almost too pretty to eat
seafood risotto, almost too pretty to eat

The risotto took some 20 minutes or so to make, and the resulting dish was excellent. It was undoubtedly the best risotto I’ve tried. The generous amount of seafood stock used in the preparation of this risotto made it very rich and flavorful, but at the same time Chef Stefano kept it in check and not overpowering. Exquisite.

milk risotto with cherry parfait
milk risotto with cherry parfait

milk risotto with cherry parfait is a dish that takes quite a bit of preparation and a pacojet to prepare, so I guess it is not very useful to share the recipe here, but if you have a penchant for unfamiliar taste, this dessert is a must order. I love it, but Haze find it unsuitable for her taste. It is milky, and has a texture not unlike porridge, but yet undoubtedly a dessert. Try it!

Saturday lunch buffet at Favola
Saturday lunch buffet at Favola

After the cooking demonstration and a taste of all the three creations by Chef Stefano, we were treated with the Saturday Hi-Tea at Favola (RM 88++ from 12pm – 3pm).

The generous spread includes antipasti, salad, dessert, meat, seafood, risotto, pasta, bread, and fresh baked pizzas, and more.

i love the squid ink pasta
i love the squid ink pasta

It was definitely a very fulfilling session with some familiar faces. Read what the others say.

KY, Haze, Evelyn, Suan, Horng, Mei, Josen
KY, Haze, Evelyn, Suan, Horng, Mei, Josen

Address:
Favola
2 Jalan Stesen Sentral,
Kuala Lumpur 50470

GPS: 3.135631,101.686476
Tel: 03-2263 7753

A week ago I was invited to Opus Bistro for a revisit, this time around it’s an event organized by MilkADeal, the group buy website that not coincidentally, is having a good deal for Opus Bistro right this moment. Details of the deal at the bottom of this post.

My previous visit at Opus Bistro was a wine tasting event with Montana wine while this one is a purely food oriented session with all the dishes here available on their menu (Opus’s website).

Opus Bistro at Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar
Opus Bistro at Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar

We were seated on the first level, a tastefully done dining area fit for private functions as well as cozy dinner without the usual noise associated in a busy restaurant.

Many of you aren’t necessarily interested with the  thickness of chair cushion and how many replica pantings are on the wall, so lets go straight to the food, shall we?

seafood antipasti platter
seafood antipasti platter

Like most finer dining places, we started off with some bread that you dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar while sipping a glass of white wine, but that is pretty dull to describe, move on to the first dish then – the seafood antipasti platter (RM 45.)

Here is a dish with some of my favorite ingredients – squid, scallop, tiger prawn, and clam. All perfectly prepared but come in different texture and flavor that compliment each other rather well. I love it.

risotto ball, seafood spaghetti, lamb shank
risotto ball, seafood spaghetti, grilled lamb cutlets in red wine sauce

Then there’s the risotto ball (RM 22), something that is quite unique to Opus. It is sort of a vegetarian “meatball” that the health conscious should love, but meat lover such as me find slightly lacking.

The seafood spaghetti (RM 22/36) is a delightful dish especially if you didn’t have the antipasti platter to start off dinner. Here you find mussels, prawns, squid, and clams accompanying the pasta in olive oil and herbs, almost healthy.

The grilled lamb cutlets with rosemary in red wine sauce (RM 58) is a dish that can satisfy anyone with a huge appetite for meat. There’s a choice of mint sauce too if red wine sauce isn’t your thing. The meat is tender and succulent.

aglio olio with smoked duck, roast cod, tiramisu, chocolate desire
aglio olio with smoked duck, roast cod, tiramisu, chocolate desire

For those who love to venture into the slightly wilder side, there’s linguini aglio olio with smoked duck (RM 17/30.) The smoked duck breast carries a slightly salty smokey taste that will satisfy your curiosity.

We also tried both versions of roast cod (RM 58) at Opus. I personally favor the one with white wine sauce over the lemon caper sauce but truth be told, both were excellent.

For desserts we had tiramisu (RM 16) & chocolate desire (RM 20). The hot chocolate in pastry combine well with the cold vanilla ice cream to serve as the far better dessert for the night.

Haze, KY, Ringo, Kerol, and Suan at Opus Bistro
Haze, KY, Ringo, Kerol, and Suan at Opus Bistro

Opus Bistro is in effect, a place with pretty good food at a still affordable pricing, a poor man’s fine dining restaurant if you would.

The good news is, in the next 6 days (till 10th of May, 2011), you can get a deal from MilkADeal that maks Opus a must-visit place. The deal is – RM25 instead of RM74 for a Main Pasta + Wine / Fruit Juice / Soft Drink. Click on it, purchase, redeem, and enjoy!

map to Opus Bistro at Bangsar

Address:
Opus Bistro
67, Jalan Bangkong
Bukit Bandaraya
59100 Kuala Lumpur

GPS: 3.138116, 101.669197
Tel: 03-2092 4288